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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

History of Mr. P.'s Carp Carrot (And Some Variations)

A plate of carrots

I first tied my Carp Carrot in the spring of 2005. At the time I was experimenting with different materials and patterns to entice Carp to take. A trout fly that I tie, has yellow pheasant rump in it so I already had a couple rump patches on hand. Way back in the 70’s we tied nymphs with wool bodies. I have several colors on small cards left from those far away days; among them is orange.

While nothing is cast in concrete when it comes to fly fishing for Carp, it did seem to me at the time, that darker patterns were working better than lighter ones. Trying all kinds of different flies for Carp has both pleased me and frustrated me. My presentations to Carp have included Trout flies and even Salmon flies. At least some of the time the Carp have responded well to trout flies but bright, flashy, Salmon flies have been a total bust. The Trout fly in which I use the yellow pheasant rump is one of my favorite half dozen. Well for trout it is anyway. It’s not a common fly but it is certainly used by others and is easy to tie. I was just sure the Carp would love it as much as Trout do. I have given that fly some serious effort and have not hooked a single Carp with it. Not even one! I swear one time I thought a nice size Carp had turned on the fly and I said, “Finally!” Well he turned on it alright but I think all that really happened was that he positioned himself to defecate on my fly, look back at me over his shoulder, and swim off with disdain.

In early 2005 I was weighting my Carp flies with lead wire wraps. I was varying the weight from 10 wraps of .020 to 15 wraps of .035. I keep a pretty extensive fishing journal and have for decades. I also keep a fly tying journal. It helps my muddled, middle age head remember how to do things, particularly if I have not done it for a year or two. In my tying journal I can read that in 2005 I was using Tiemco model 5262 in size 6 and 8 for my first Carp Carrots. Those first ones were heavy, having 15 wraps of .035 lead.

The above fly is tied on a #6, 5263. It has 15 wraps of .035 lead wire. This is one of my earliest Carrots.

It would be during that summer that I began using beads and dumbbell eyes.  I was also dubbing the fly with orange rabbit fur.  Sometimes I would dub over the dumbbell eyes right up to the head.  I don't know that dubbing works better than wool; the wool is just quicker to tie with.  I also experimented with tying variations with partridge legs and a partridge beard rather than wrapping the hackle.  (Still thinking of a name for that bug)

Unlike the Salmon Flies, and the Trout fly the Carp pooped on, they liked the Carrot right away. I don’t know why. I have ideas and theories, which change from month to month, but still, I really don’t know why they like it so well. They do though. The darn fish responded well the first time I presented them with it. During those first few trips where I was using my Carrot more and more, there were times when the body would partially slip off the wire wrap, particularly when it was the .035 wire. That caused me to begin trying bead head flies and then the dumbbell eyes. I was used to lead, dumbbell eyes from fishing Clousers in the saltwater. I really didn’t know if the dumbbell eyes would put the Carp off. At least so far, they seem to not be scaring the fish. With bead heads or with the dumbbells I can wrap the bodies much more tightly so there isn’t any slipping.

Since those early versions I have tied the fly as small as size 12 on a 5262 hook. I had a bad experience, grrrrr…, one day with size 12, 5262 Carrots. I straightened the hook on three consecutive fish. I wrote an article about it for the NACA magazine. From that point on I began using Tiemco 3769 for the smaller size hooks. It is heavier wire and holds fat Carp just fine.

The above fly is tied on a #10 5262.

This fly is tied on a #12 5262
I have moved away from using this hook in these small sizes.

#6 3769 with black dumbbell eyes, brighter yarn, and orange thread

I have also tried a variety of rubber legs on my Carp Carrots. I’ve used black, white, and variegated. The orange and black legs pictured are tarantula legs. I also use what are called juicy legs. I have some tiers use the slang, “silly legs” for the variegated color products. I have tied the legs short, medium and long. At this point if I am going to use legs I don’t like them to be too short. The verdict is out at this point on whether particularly long legs are helpful, neutral, or problematic. I don’t experience short strikes with Carp like I do with other species. The pick it up or they don’t. The can eject a fake very, very quickly and I don’t know if long legs tells them to hold it in or to blow it out. I’ll have to keep field testing.

#6, 3769 with medium length white rubber legs, darker yarn color, bead head, and black thread

#6, 3769, longer black legs, brighter colored yarn, bead head, and black thread

#6, 3769, tarantula legs, darker yarn, bead head, black thread.

I have tried some bright, glass beads on my Carrots. These, at least so far, don’t seem to produce any advantage though I am continuing to experiment.

The first Carrots I tied were with wool bodies. The fly produced such pleasantly surprising results that I went out and bought a ball of yarn at the fabric store that was basically the same color as the wool I was using. Two years later I bought another ball of yarn that was brighter orange than my original Carrots. Once the fly is wet I don’t think it makes any difference whether it is the brighter orange or the duller version. In fact I tie most of my Carrots with the more subdued color simply because the material is slightly easier to work with than the brighter color. The darker yarn is a bit easier to work with.

I have also tied the “Carrot” in other colors. I don’t know exactly how I can call something that is green, black, red, tan, or pink a Carrot. Nothing seems to work as well as orange.

I do tie some unweighted versions in small sizes that I fish in very calm, shallow water when I am casting to particularly skittish fish.

No one fly will work for Carp all the time. This is my "go to" Carp fly. The fish seem to be more willing to move to this fly than to others. There are still days when the Carp don't want my Carrots and I have to give them something else.

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  1. Thanks for sharing the genesis of the carp carrot and its evolution. Intriguing story and helps me better understand the hows and whys.

  2. Really enjoyed your post on the Carp Carrot. I'm new to fly fishing, fly tying and carp fishing so this really pushed all the buttons. Lol. Great blog! Which issue of NACA magazine did that article appear? Thanks.

  3. Absolutely KILLER fly. You know I love the Carrot Mr. P! Personally, I think you have 3 components here that make this fly special. One, the dumbell eyes. I do think carp respond to "eye shapes." Everything I tie with dumbell eyes fishes better than normal beads. Two, the coloration. While I fish and tie my carrots in more of a brown/orange that bright/orange, that orange tinge is crucial. I've tried the body shape in black, purple, maroon, etc and the orange tinge outfishes it every time. I love the orange hairline dubbing. Three...the rubber legs. I think most carp flies MUST have rubber legs. I like the extra motion they add on the carrot...that helps when throwing at random "fast cruisers." And if the tailers don't like the legs, they are easy to clip off.

    I carry dozens of carrots, and dozens of worms in my box...no other fly comes close to those 2 in terms of success.

  4. Yeah thanks for this, I found mention of this fly. Its good to see where it came from.

  5. great post, I've just started tying up a few carp flies as I intend on pursuing them more this summer since there are a few good spots within a few miles of my house. This post was most helpful!!